Lonesome George Diesby Kool Cat KC on 09/11/12
I hope everyone had a great summer vacation and is happy to be back at school. My summer was pretty lame. I spent a lot of time outside this summer, chasing birds and chipmunks in our back yard. I had to go visit the neighbor kids next door a lot, because my human, Terry, was working on a new book. All summer long she got up early in the morning and wrote till late at night. Whoa! I’ve never seen a human work so hard. When she’s working hard like that, every once in a while, she says, “I’m cooking with gas now, baby!” For a while I was worried about her; but then I realized it actually makes Terry happy to write. The book is about her childhood in Cuba. She’s also writing a picture book about solving word problems. So far she’s not cooking with gas on that one. Sometimes she goes for long walks or ride her bike to work things out in her head.
This summer we had some very sad news. One of Terry’s favorite animals, Lonesome George, a Giant Galápagos Island Tortoise(GGIT), died. In the last post last year we said, more to come on GGITs! And we were planning on writing about Lonesome George, but we were counting on Lonesome George to be alive. GGITs can live for 150 years and more; George was just 100 years old when he died. It was soooo sad!
What was saddest about George is that he was the last of his subspecies. Now that he is dead, there won’t ever be any more GGITs that look like him. There used to be fourteen different subspecies of GGITs in the galapagos islands, now, with George gone, there are only ten subspecies left.
What made these gentle giants disappear? In our last post we told you about whalers and pirates that kidnapped them and stored them in the holds of ships to use them as food in their long voyages. One ship might take three hundred tortoises at a time. But that wasn’t the only reason GGIT’s got in trouble. The ships that landed on the islands brought rats that ate the tortoises eggs. And humans brought goats to the islands. The goats stepped on the tortoises’ nests and broke the eggs. George was found in the island of Pinta, one of the Galápagos Islands, in 1971. No other giant tortoise had been seen on that island since 1906.
Next time we post, we’ll let you know what scientists in the Galápagos Islands are doing to make sure that what happened to George’s subspecies doesn’t happen to others. Meanwhile, why don’t you find out how a tortoise becomes a male or a female tortoise. If you can figure it out, write me. We’ll let you know if you’re right on our next post.